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Mordechai Kedar: Radical Islam in Africa

Sudanese women seen walking in Juba, the capital of the Republic of South Sudan.

Sudanese women seen walking in Juba, the capital of the Republic of South Sudan.
Photo Credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90

During the years that Al Qaeda was present in Sudan, members of the organization would deal with their opposition in the acceptable way: decapitation, of journalists and politicians alike.

Regarding Sudan, we should recall that for several years in the nineties, a Muslim religious leader, Hasan Al-Tourabi, led this state, and his close relationship to the ruler Al-Bashir allowing him to impose the Muslim laws of Shari’a in Sudan. Alcohol was freely spilled out onto the ground, cinemas were closed and a radical dress code was enforced upon the women. Sudan’s acceptance of the presence of Al Qaeda on its territory should be seen in this context.

In Nigeria, a state of 160 million residents, half of the residents of the country are Muslims and the other half are Christians. A radical militia, “Boko Haram” (“Western culture is forbidden”) has been active among the Muslims in recent years. The goal of this group is to eradicate all influence of Western culture on the population, and to impose Islamic Shari’a as the law of the land. In parts of the northern region – the Muslim section of Nigeria – Islamic Shari’a has already been implemented and therefore it is forbidden to sell alcoholic drinks, while women are punished with severe corporal punishment and even death if they are even suspected of a sin against Islam. To date, thousands of citizens have been killed in Nigeria in conflicts between Muslims and Christians due to religious differences.

Somalia has been the arena of bloody tribal wars for the past twenty years. These wars caused the involvement of international terror elements, like Al Qaeda, and the main Islamic militia, known as the “Consolidation of Islamic Courts”, is supported by the terrorist militia, “Shabab al-Thura” (“the Revolutionary Youth”). These militias are not repulsed by the use of any means against their enemies, and they carry out massacres against them. The civilian and economic infrastructures of Somalia are in ruins and most of its population suffers from malnutrition, but in the eyes of the Muslim militias this fact is not important. In recent years (Christian) Ethiopia has become involved because of the influence of the (Christian) United States in (Muslim) Somalia, and this involvement has exacerbated the religious component in the considerations and arguments of the Muslim militias in Somalia.

The situation of war and the lack of a functional government in Somalia has thrown the horn of Africa back hundreds of years, to the era of terror and piracy: thousands of Somalian Muslims find their livelihoods in piracy on the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, and they especially love oil tankers, because of their size, their price, and the precious cargo that they carry. Pirates don’t mind tourist yachts either, because those who sail on them are people of means and therefore will prefer to pay ransom on the spot instead of arguing with their captors. The determination of the European countries has caused this phenomenon to be almost totally eliminated, and it is important to note that on the high seas there are no courts of justice or human rights organizations – when a ship is attacked by pirates, security guards shoot to kill, without a trial and without a warning. The cultured world has succeeded in eliminating this medieval phenomenon, only because it did not impose upon its struggle against piracy the limitations that stem from modern ideas of ‘human rights’ and ‘judicial procedure’. The world understands that pirates have effectively excluded themselves from the domain of modern humanity, and therefore they do not deserve the rights that modern humanity awards even to criminals.

It is important to note that in this matter the Iranian Navy has cooperated with European navies. Iran, like Europe, saw in the pirates an economic danger, and therefore cooperated with the European “infidels” on this particular issue.

In neighboring Kenya, about one tenth of the population is Islamist, and international terror organizations exist among them as well. The double attack that was carried out in 2002 against the Paradise Hotel is a painful example of this, in which three vacationing Israelis and 13 local employees were killed. And there was also an attempt to shoot down an Arkia jet, which, if it had been successful, would have resulted in a large number of Israeli fatalities.

In the states of Northern Africa – Morocco , Algeria, Libya and Tunisia – “Al Qaeda in the Countries of the Maghreb” is active, which, from time to time kidnaps and murders tourists and professionals such as engineers who come to these countries as tourists or to work in their various occupations. In parallel, Islamist groups are known to attack European volunteers who function as doctors and nurses, usually in the clinics that the World Health Organization establishes, because the Muslim Africans see the volunteers as missionaries of a sort, but camouflaged and hidden and, therefore, also dangerous.

About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.


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